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1 in 7 U.S. patients hit with surprise medical bills

Patients in Oregon and across the U.S. are getting slapped with surprise medical bills despite staying within their health care network, according to an analysis by the Health Care Cost Institute. In fact, the report found that approximately 1 in 7 patients nationwide get an unexpected medical bill after seeking in-network medical care.

For the analysis, researchers examined almost 620,000 in-network inpatient admissions and subsequent claims in the District of Columbia and 37 states. They found that Minnesota had the lowest share of in-network hospital admissions that included one or more out-of-network claims, with 1.7 percent. Meanwhile, Florida had the highest share, with 26.3 percent. Oregon had a share of 4 percent. Of the various claim types, anesthesiology had the largest share of surprise out-of-network claims after in-network care, with 16.5 percent. Meanwhile, 22.1 percent of independent labs billed out of network.

According to health care experts, health insurance designs are becoming increasingly complex and prone to surprise charges. As a result, insurers and health care systems are starting to work together to find a solution. Lawmakers are also pitching a variety of fixes for the problem. The authors of the analysis say that one solution could be to see what a state like Minnesota has done to successfully push out-of-network claims under 2 percent.

Studies have shown that medical bills are one of the top causes of financial hardship in the U.S. Individuals who are struggling to pay unexpected medical expenses could find relief by speaking with a bankruptcy attorney about their situation. The attorney could carefully review the situation and explain all legal remedies available. For example, it may be advisable for someone to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which could eliminate debt, stop creditor harassment and offer a fresh financial start.

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The Law Office of Kim Covington is a debt relief agency, and I have helped families, individuals and small businesses, file for bankruptcy relief under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, for over 19 years.

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